Charitable Challenges – Making A Difference

12/21/2013

With the holiday giving season in full swing, you may be re-evaluating just how much to give to charitable causes and where to donate.

We are now in the traditionally charitably-minded time of year. Charitable giving is an important way of giving back. In addition, it can be an important way to do a little good somewhere in the world (who knows, maybe a great deal of good). That said, and even if you are ready to give back or help out, just how do you decide what to do and through whom?

For those going-to-be-givers making year-end charitable gifts, these issues are significant because they want to be wise with their gifts.

An increasingly popular metric is "effectiveness" or the ability of a charity to make a difference. To some, this is a technical question and involves hard data, number-crunching, and non-biased analysis. Resolving the technical is an easier matter in the digital age.

Nevertheless, measuring how a charity makes a difference is also a question of how you define "making a difference" itself. The New York Times considered this in an article titled "Making a Difference in This Season of Giving." If you are still reading, and therefore likely "charitably inclined," then it is worth your time to read the original article.

How do you determine the values most important to you and how do you privilege certain decisions over others?

The article jumps into the work of a philosopher, Peter Singer. The debate turns on whether one ought to give locally or to the very neediest wherever located. This is not merely an abstract matter to resolve, as there are some hard data points, principles, and even outright charitable suggestions to mull over.

Regardless whether you agree with Singer or any other thinker for that matter, this can be a very meaningful approach to the question of what, how and why to give.

Time is ticking for those year-end gifts, though. Perhaps a new perspective can help you make some decisions you have been debating all along. Now, practically-speaking, how and what to give is another important point to get nailed down. If you have your values aligned, this can be the beginning of a charitable life plan, too.

For more information, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: The New York Times (December 6, 2013) "Making a Difference in This Season of Giving"